The Trade Ministry has insisted that Japanese convenience store giant 7-Eleven may have violated regulations despite the fact that it just opened its third outlet in Jakarta on Friday.
The Trade Ministry's director general for domestic trade, Subagjo, said Friday that in order to open an operation in Indonesia, 7-Eleven had to acquire a partner and the ministry would issue a permit to both 7-Eleven as a franchisor and the partner as franchisee.
Subagjo said the ministry had only issued a permit for 7-Eleven and not for the franchisee, which was PT Modern Putra Indonesia (MPI).
MPI is a subsidiary of publicly listed business empire PT Modern Internasional, which runs a photography-related retail business, with over 2,000 stores nationwide like Fuji Image Plaza, Fujifilm Digital Imaging and MPhoto Studio.
7-Eleven and MPI together have opened three outlets in the capital city: in Bulungan and Kemang, both in South Jakarta, as well as in Menteng, Central Jakarta.
Subagjo also added that 7-Eleven's operations in Indonesia were limited by its permit to food and beverage serving services, issued by the Jakarta Culture and Tourism Agency. However, the company also serves as a retailer of consumer goods, thus putting in question the legal status of its operations.
Subagjo said he had ordered a team to check whether 7-Eleven's operations at its three outlets could be categorized as consumer goods retailing in the form of a convenience store.
"If *7-Eleven outlets* are found to be convenience stores despite only holding licenses for a food and beverage operation, I will shut them down," Subagjo said.
Jakarta Culture and Tourism Agency head Arie Budhiman Soe-darto said the outlets had met all requirements for food and beverage provider services.
"We have checked in the field that they serve fast food, snacks and drinks. So they can be categorized as a cafeteria," he told The Jakarta Post.
But he said he did not know whether it had also already obtained other necessary licenses.
Jakarta Trade and Small and Medium Enterprises Agency head Ade Suharsono said his agency had not issued retail permits for the operations of 7-Eleven stores. He also added that a company could not be both a food and beverage provider and a retail store.
"They should open either a restaurant or a retail store," he told the Post.
Ade said he was waiting for the central government's decision on the fate of the 7-Eleven stores.
MPI said it had acquired all necessary approvals from the Jakarta administration for operating 7-Eleven outlets in the city and that the concept of the outlets was different from a traditional convenience store, Bisnis Indonesia daily reported.
MPI public relations official Budiasto could not be reached for comment.
There are 36,842 7-Eleven stores in 15 countries, excluding Indonesia.